A new short film premiering today from Wisconsin Farmers Union looks at the crisis of concentration in America. “Get Loud: The Fight for the Soul of Agriculture” features voices from WFU, alongside antitrust researcher and author Austin Frerick. The central question at the heart of the film: what kind of food system do we want?
“The current food system is not serving farmers, supply chain workers, or consumers. Instead, it serves a handful of powerful monopolies that control almost every aspect of the food supply chain and encourage consolidation and concentration,” said WFU communications director Danielle Endvick. “We are at that fork in the road where we can either reinvigorate rural America a bit or continue on the path we are on.
The film tells how the decline in the vitality of rural communities has coincided with the concentration of retail agricultural and food markets, with family farms bearing the brunt of this injustice.
“There is a concentration crisis in America,” notes Frerick, who is deputy director of the Thurman Arnold Project on Competition Policy and Antitrust Enforcement at Yale University. “We’ve seen the collapse of many family farmers, first in hogs, then in dairy, and now it’s happening in beef.”
“Farmers are squeezed both on the input and output side,” adds Frerick. “So when they buy their seed and when they buy their fertilizer, which are both super-concentrated, they pay the monopoly price. Then when they go to sell, they sell to monopolies. So not only are they overpaying, they’re underpaid.
As Dunn County sheep farmer and WFU Special Projects Director Lauren Langworthy points out in the film, farmers’ movements helped usher in the progressive era of trust and economic reform. “There was this huge consolidation and people stood up and they didn’t talk about it anymore,” Langworthy said. “We are in this moment again and we have this huge opportunity. We have the laws we need on the books, we just need to enforce them. »
The agriculture concentration was again chosen as one of the top special orders by ABU rank-and-file members at the family farm organization’s annual convention in January. It is also a priority issue for the National Farmers Union, which has launched a Farmers Equity Campaign in 2021.
WFU empowers members to lend their voice to a growing national conversation about antitrust and monopoly power.
“We have to speak a little loudly about this issue,” Endvick said. “Contact your legislators and demand change. A big step is to educate ourselves and consumers. »
Learn more about the fight for a fair and equitable food system and watch the film at wisconsinfarmersunion.com/monopolypower